Florida State Universities Remove Sociology Class, Intensifying Crackdown on DEI

Florida’s Board of Governors has made the decision to prohibit state funding for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) programs at public universities within the state. This move comes after the passage of Senate Bill 266 last year, which imposed restrictions on the use of state funds for such programs and activities. The Board of Governors defines DEI as any program, campus activity, or policy that categorizes individuals based on race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes preferential treatment based on these classifications, as stated in Regulation 9.016 of the State University System of Florida.

As a result of this decision, taxpayer funding can no longer be utilized to support DEI initiatives at Florida’s public universities and colleges, including prominent institutions like the University of Central Florida, Seminole State College, and Florida State University. The new regulation also specifies that public funds cannot be allocated to campus programs engaging in political or social activism.

Critics of the decision, such as Joe Saunders of Equality Florida, argue that it will negatively impact multicultural student centers, Jewish student unions, black student unions, Hispanic student unions, and LGBTQ student unions. Saunders questioned the purpose of such limitations during the board meeting, stating that it intimidates, threatens, and, in some cases, eliminates these vital student organizations.

In response, Chairman Alan Levine clarified that the new regulations do not ban student organizations. He explained that there is a specific exemption allowing student activity fees to be used for groups advocating for specific causes, such as the black student union.

In addition to the DEI rules, the board also voted to replace the core class “Principles of Sociology” with an American History course titled “Introductory Survey to 1877.” The new course aims to provide students with a historically accurate account of America’s founding, the horrors of slavery, the resulting Civil War, and the Reconstruction era, according to the State University System of Florida.

Chancellor Ray Rodrigues expressed satisfaction with the board’s decision, stating that he is proud of the positive impact the new course will have on students’ future success. He emphasized that Florida’s students will now have the opportunity to learn about the creation and development of the nation as part of their core course options.

However, the American Sociological Association released a statement expressing outrage at this decision. They argue that there was no evidentiary basis for the board’s choice and that it seems to stem from a misunderstanding of sociology as an illegitimate discipline driven by “radical” and “woke” ideology. The association highlighted the importance of sociology as a scientific study of social life, social change, and the causes and consequences of human behavior, which are essential for civic literacy and various careers.

The association further emphasized that sociologists bring expert knowledge, understanding, and methodological skills to address challenging social problems with broad public policy implications. They urged the Florida Board of Governors to reconsider their decision and reinstate sociology as a core course option, stating that failure to prioritize the scientific study of human behavior is a failure of Florida’s commitment to high-quality civics education and workforce readiness.

In conclusion, Florida’s Board of Governors has made significant decisions regarding the funding of DEI programs at public universities and the replacement of a core sociology course. These decisions have sparked both support and opposition, with proponents emphasizing the need to allocate resources appropriately and opponents expressing concern about the impact on student organizations and the erasure of important disciplines. The implications of these choices are likely to reverberate throughout Florida’s higher education landscape.

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